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How to Change the Brakes on an Oldsmobile Cutlass Cierra

by Lee Sallings

The brake system in your Cutlass Cierra uses front disc brakes and rear drum brakes, with the front disc brakes supplying up to 80 percent of the stopping power. Replacing the brake shoes and pads is a common home auto-repair project and most home mechanics can accomplish this project in a couple of hours. The most difficult part of the job is replacement of the rear shoes. The rear drum-brake system on this car is small, and sometimes difficult to work with.

Disc Brakes

1

Place wheel chocks behind the rear wheels. Lift the front of the car, until the front wheels are off the ground, using a floor jack positioned on the front sub-frame. Place jack stands under the front sub-frame and lower the Cierra onto the stands. Lifting and supporting the vehicle's weight in this manner prevents serious injuries. Remove the wheels and set them aside with the lug nuts.

2

Wedge a large screwdriver between the inside brake pad and the brake rotor. Pry the inboard pad back to compress the piston into the caliper housing. Remove the two 3/8-inch Allen-head caliper slide pins. Lift the caliper off the rotor and hang it on the suspension to prevent stress and damage to the rubber brake hoses.

3

Place an old pad over the caliper piston and use a C-clamp to push the caliper piston completely into the caliper housing. Remove the old pads, and install the new pads in their place. It is important to transfer the shims from the old pads to the new pads to prevent brake noise. Slip the caliper over the rotor and new pads. Install the slide-pin bolts and tighten them securely. Reinstall the wheels and lower the vehicle.

Drum Brakes

1

Place wheel chocks behind the front wheels. Lift one side of the rear of the vehicle, using a floor jack positioned on the body pinch weld located on the bottom of the car a few inches in front of the wheel. Place a jack stand under the rear frame of the car, and lower the car onto the stand. Remove the rear wheel.

2

Slide the drum off the brake assembly. Remove the return springs, that attach the shoes to the pivot pin at the top of the backing plate, using the return spring tool. Remove the hold-down springs that attach the shoes to the backing plate, using a hold-down spring tool. Allow the self-adjuster and parking-brake spreader bar to fall from the shoes.

3

Remove the parking-brake lever from the secondary shoe, using the diagonal cutters to remove the retaining clip, and clean the brake parts with brake-parts cleaner. Apply silicon brake lube to the backing plate at the six shoe-contact points.

4

Attach the larger secondary shoe to the parking-brake lever and squeeze the retainer securely. Attach the new shoes to the backing plate using the hold-down springs and hold-down spring tool. Position the parking-brake spreader bar into the shoes and install the return springs using the return-spring tool.

5

Attach the lower self-adjuster spring to the new shoes and spread them apart while installing the self-adjuster. Unscrew the adjuster until the drum will slide onto the shoes with a little drag on the shoes. Install the wheels, and lower the car.

Tips

  • Pump the brake pedal several times to expand the caliper piston before test driving.
  • If the brake pedal is low during the test drive, adjust the rear brakes.

Items you will need

About the Author

Lee Sallings is a freelance writer from Fort Worth, Texas. Specializing in website content and design for the automobile enthusiast, he also has many years of experience in the auto repair industry. He has written Web content for eHow, and designed the DIY-Auto-Repair.com website. He began his writing career developing and teaching automotive technical training programs.

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